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DTA COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for SNAP Retailers in Massachusetts

FAQ on retailer operations and resources from the Department of Transitional Assistance related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

To learn more about HIP, visit mass.gov/HIP. *Elements of this FAQ are informed by the USDA’s SNAP Training Guide for Retailers. HIP retailer transactions follow federal SNAP regulations.

Table of Contents

Becoming a Certified Retailer

  1. How do I sign up to become a SNAP retailer?

    USDA authorizes eligible retailers to accept SNAP benefits. Find the application here.
     
  2. How do I obtain SNAP processing equipment?

    Many providers offer SNAP equipment and services for purchase, both wired and wireless. If your business is a farmers’ market, direct-marketing farm, or nonprofit food buying cooperative, you may be eligible to receive a free landline terminal or subsidies for wireless terminals; find more information here.
     
  3. Can my business participate in the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Pilot?

    Businesses classified by FNS as direct-marketing farmers, farmers markets, and nonprofit buying cooperatives are eligible to participate in the CSA Pilot. The CSA Pilot does not require in-person EBT transactions nor EBT equipment to process SNAP payments. Find more information about the CSA Pilot here.
     
  4. How do I sign up to become a HIP retailer?

    Vendor participation in HIP is limited. Businesses classified by FNS as farmers’ markets, direct-marketing farms, nonprofit buying cooperatives, fruit/vegetable specialty vendors, or delivery routes may be eligible to participate in HIP. Find more information about HIP, including any available opportunities to join the program, here.

SNAP Transactions

1. Can I take a customer’s EBT card number and PIN?

No. Never keep the card or card number. Never ask your customers for their PIN, do not enter the PIN for a customer, and do not watch the PIN being entered. Doing so is in violation of USDA regulation and could result in termination in status as a SNAP retailer.

2. Can I enter the customer’s PIN for them if they ask me to?

No. Only the customer or an authorized representative is allowed to enter the PIN into a Point of Sale (POS) device.

3. Can I use manual vouchers to process SNAP transactions?

Manual vouchers may be used to process SNAP transactions as a last resort, if a mobile POS device is unavailable. Information regarding manual vouchers, including how they are completed and cleared, can be found here. SNAP customers must sign the manual voucher in person at the time the voucher is authorized; a retailer may not complete the voucher without the client present.

4. Who is allowed to use a customer’s EBT card?

Household members. Any person included in a client’s SNAP household can use the client’s EBT card without telling DTA, as long as that person has the PIN.

Authorized representatives. Outside of the client’s household members, a client should only share their EBT card and PIN with a trusted family member or friend. If a family member or friend is going to shop for a client regularly, the client must give DTA signed, written permission telling DTA who will be shopping for them. The client can submit this through the DTA Connect website and mobile app, by fax, or by mail.

Retailers are not allowed to ask people for identification to use an EBT card, unless they ask this to every customer regardless of payment method.

5. How can my business safely complete transactions in person?

General guidance and best practices for safe operation can be found at the following links. All SNAP transactions must be completed in compliance with USDA regulations.

Guidance and best practices for safe operation of farms and farmers markets can be found at the following links. All SNAP transactions must be completed in compliance with USDA regulations.

6. Where can I learn more about transacting HIP benefits?

For more information and troubleshooting, visit the HIP retailer page.

Online and by Phone Ordering and Purchasing

  1. Can my business accept SNAP payment from customers online?

    No. SNAP transactions must be completed in person at the time of pickup or delivery. (Retailers participating in USDA’s Online Purchasing Pilot are exempt from this regulation.)
     
  2. Can customers who plan to pay with SNAP order items from my business online for later pickup or delivery?

    Yes, customers can place a hold on items, which will be purchased with SNAP at time of pickup or delivery.
     
  3. Will online purchasing with SNAP be an option in the future?

    Massachusetts recently received USDA approval and launched this option. In the initial implementation phase of the pilot, only Amazon and Walmart have federal authorization to participate in Massachusetts. Retailers interested in applying to join the pilot can find more information here.

    We encourage retailers to expand delivery/curbside pickup/CSA models as an alternative to online ordering. See curbside pickup and delivery section below for more information.

Curbside Pickup and Delivery

  1. Can my business offer curbside pickup for SNAP customers?

    Yes. SNAP customers can place a hold on items from your business online or over the phone. The SNAP transaction can be completed in person at the time of pickup using a wireless POS device.
     
  2. Can my business offer delivery to SNAP customers?

    Yes. SNAP customers can place a hold on items from your business online or over the phone, and the groceries bought with SNAP can be delivered to the customer’s home. The SNAP transaction can be completed in person at the time of delivery using a wireless POS device.
     
  3. Can SNAP be used to pay for delivery?

    No. Only eligible food may be purchased with SNAP benefits; delivery fees and other associated charges may not be paid for with SNAP benefits.
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